Time change timeline: When will B.C. actually move to permanent daylight time?

·3 min read
The province says it's ready to stay on permanent daylight time, but it's waiting for neighbouring jurisdictions to do the same — and that could take awhile. (Valerie Gamache/CBC - image credit)
The province says it's ready to stay on permanent daylight time, but it's waiting for neighbouring jurisdictions to do the same — and that could take awhile. (Valerie Gamache/CBC - image credit)

Early Sunday morning, British Columbians will once again turn back their clocks as they enter Standard time, even though the provincial government passed legislation to end time changes two years ago.

More than 93 per cent of respondents to a 2019 B.C. government survey were on board with scrapping the twice-a-year time change and making daylight time permanent.

The province then introduced the Interpretation Amendment Act, which allows the province to create a new name for our time zone — which would be Pacific Time — and remove the legislation that permits the semi-annual time change.

"Whenever we change our clocks we all hope it will be the last time, but we heard from people and businesses in B.C. that we need to stay aligned with our time zone neighbours in Washington, Oregon, California and Yukon," Attorney General David Eby said in an emailed statement to CBC.

"We continue to watch how things play out in the U.S. so we can make this change together to keep us in the same time zone as our neighbours."

Yukon stopped observing a time change in November 2020 after the majority of residents who responded to a government survey voted in favour of one time zone year-round.

A tight vote in Alberta last month revealed that B.C.'s eastern neighbours won't likely make the change; 50.2 per cent of Albertans voted to oppose moving to permanent daylight time and 49.8 per cent were in favour.

All three states Eby mentioned have passed legislation that could enact permanent daylight time, but before they can move forward, Congress must approve the change. American federal law does permit states to choose whether to remain on standard time or switch between standard and daylight saving time in the spring and fall.

Once a bill is introduced to both the Senate and House of Representatives in the U.S., both must sign off on the bill before it's presented to the President, who gets the ultimate say. It could take anywhere from months to years to get the green light — if they get approval at all.

"Any piece of legislation can get hung up in either chamber or the two chambers may pass different versions of the bill," said Simon Fraser University political science lecturer Stewart Prest. In that case, the two chambers would then have to settle on an agreed upon version of the bill.

"There is no single timeline," Prest added.

However, when and if a law is passed allowing those western states to stick with daylight time, Prest said the process in B.C., would only take a matter of months, if the government of the day is still committed to it.

That said, Prest said there is a "tremendous opportunity" for B.C., to take the lead on introducing permanent daylight time.

Rather than wait around for others to make the switch, Prest wonders why the provincial government won't take the lead.

He points to Saskatchewan, which has been on permanent central standard time for decades.

"It relates back to this idea of limiting the ability to govern ourselves by choosing to wait for someone else to take action," Prest said.

"B.C. is essentially giving up on the opportunity to exercise leadership on the issue. So essentially, they're creating permissive conditions where another region that is thinking along similar lines might want you to take action. But if B.C., just went ahead and changed their policy, then that might provide a stronger incentive for neighbouring states and provinces."

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